Hello, my name is Malena Sellen and I am a junior at USF. I am working towards my bachelor’s degree in Music Studies with minors in Psychology and Nutrition. I am studying abroad at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, from January 18th, 2021 to June 6th, 2021. While here, I am taking two Psychology classes, a Swedish Language class, and a Nutrition class. In this post I am transcribing a journal entry which recounts the day I traveled from Florida to Sweden.
15 January, 2021 (Femtonde januari, två-tusen-tjugo-ett)
Today I traveled to Uppsala, Sweden. My luggage was a small carry-on suitcase, a backpack, and a 50-lb suitcase; all as full as possible. At Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) I was sweating in my turtleneck, sweater, insulated leggings, snow boots, and two pairs of socks that I needed for the European climate. I also carried along my long winter coat. I had connections in Atlanta and Amsterdam before I got to Uppsala.
My first flight and experience in the ATL airport was uneventful, but riding the “plane train” in ATL was fun. The book I read in my downtime and when I had no WiFi in the air was “A Clash of Kings” (the second novel in the Game of Thrones series). On my 8-hour flight to Amsterdam (AMS) I watched Mulan (2020), read, and slept. The sun set when we were above the clouds. The sky was so clear over the Atlantic and I could see so many stars. It was surreal and only comparable to being in the Space Mountain ride at Disney.
I was in AMS for a 3-hour layover and AMS I met a German girl about my age who goes to the University of Michigan. I approached her because I thought she was Swedish. She was wearing blue and yellow team colors and she was sitting in the seating area near the gate of the flight to Sweden (she ended up not being on my flight). I bought two delicious, fresh croissants and a banana to eat on the plane. On the flight to Sweden, I was seated next to an Italian student my age who would be studying abroad in Umeå, Sweden. When we got off the flight we found our way to the baggage claim, then parted ways. Landing in Stockholm was amazing because everything was green and white and the snow was glittering. I had never flown to a place that had snow before.
Right outside the baggage claim I picked up my key to my student apartment, Klostergatan 16. My cousin Jonathan was there waiting for me and he got me a coffee! “Fika” is a tradition in Sweden, it means “coffee break.” Jonathan drove me from the airport to my apartment in Uppsala. The only animal I saw the whole way there was a magpie bird. Everything was covered in snow and all of the waterways were frozen and covered in snow as well. Walking from the airport to the car was my first experience being in snow and I will never forget my first experience feeling snow crunch under my boots.
When we got to my apartment we found my floor and dropped off my luggage and then walked to a coffee shop to get a snack. We sat and talked about the pandemic and compared the politics and governments of the U.S. and Sweden. Jonathan helped me navigate the grocery store, ICA, so I could find some food for meals. After the grocery store, we parted ways and I set up my ethernet cable with my laptop and created a hotspot on my laptop for WiFi for my phone.
Later, I walked to the department store Åhléns to get bedsheets. My room’s bed came with a pillow and a comforter but I had to buy a fitted sheet, a comforter sheet, and a pillowcase. My room in Klostergatan 16 also has two tables with one chair each, a large cabinet for clothes, a kitchen with cabinets and a 2-burner stove, a mini fridge, a microwave, a table lamp, a night-light lamp on the wall, a TV, and a bathroom with a small shelf and an open shower. The windows open out to the air! My view is of the street Sankt Olofsgatan.